Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Septic tanks meet norms says Ministry


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SBM Rural

Mains level: Government measures to end Manual Scavenging activities


  • Septic tanks and single pits are safe sanitation technologies that meet the standards prescribed by the Sustainable Development Goals, according to the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

Twin-Leach pit Toilets

  • A large proportion of the remaining toilets have single-leach pits which, like the twin-leach pits, are also safe.
  • The twin-leach pit toilet is among the most economical and safe sanitation technologies, and has been promoted and extensively adopted.
  • However, there are other safe technologies like septic tanks or single pits.

Hazards of twin-leach pits

  • A/c to a report only 26% of rural toilets uses twin-leach pits.
  • The data from the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) 2018-19, concluded that the remainder of rural toilets [that do not use twin-leach pits] could create a new sanitation nightmare.
  • 34% of rural toilets are connected to septic tanks but failed to clarify that this was a perfectly safe sanitation solution.
  • The waste from the remainder of rural toilets could create a new sanitation nightmare — like groundwater contamination and pushing a new generation into manual scavenging.

What concerns the most?

  • The problem of sludge management along with lack of manpower to empty and clean such tanks is at the core.
  • There is a manpower challenge, given the social context of the country and caste prejudices against such cleaning work, even while acknowledging that the government was preparing technological and entrepreneurial solutions to the problem.
  • The transportation and treatment of faecal waste – including waste emptied from septic tanks – is a problem, and that surveys have shown such waste is often dumped into local ponds and farmlands.
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